Santa Fe Mayor to Run for Ben Lujan's House Seat

Mayor David Coss
From -Santa Fe mayor David Coss ill run for the state House of Representatives seat that has been held by outgoing Speaker of the House Ben Lujan since 1975. Two extremely reliable sources within the Democratic Party in the Santa Fe area confirmed that Coss, who has served as Santa Fe’s mayor since 2006, is expected to make the announcement as early as Friday (March 8). “Put that in the bank,” one source told us Thursday night. “He’s definitely in.” Coss still has two years left in his term as mayor. It’s unclear whether Coss would step down as mayor should be win the election to the state House of Representatives or serve out his term doing both jobs. One of our sources says that by law Coss could do both jobs but the expectation is that if Coss wins in District 46, he would formally resign from his mayoral duties when that term expires in 2014.  More News New Mexico

NM Law Creates Broader Property Tax Notice

Gov. Susana Martinez
From -A new state law will give homeowners in New Mexico an early warning of possible increases in their property taxes. Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation into law on Wednesday to require county assessors to provide more information on property tax notices sent each spring to homeowners. The documents currently show the taxable value of property. The new law takes effect in July and will require the notices to include the previous year's property tax as well as instructions for homeowners to calculate an estimated tax for the next year on their residential property. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, a Los Lunas Republican. More News New Mexico

Hiker and Cat Found in Gila Forest

From An Albuquerque woman who’d been missing for nearly a month was found Wednesday alive, but barely. Search and rescue crews say they found Margaret Page, 31, in the Gila National Forest and she wasn’t alone. They also found Page’s cat, who never left the woman’s side.  Officials say on Wednesday they spotted Page’s blue sleeping bag about a mile up from the Railroad Canyon Trail, they believe that’s where she’d gone hiking back in February. Page had likely been stranded in the Gila for the past three weeks, nibbling on food she had brought with her and drinking water from a nearby creek. She told crews she’d ran out of food about a week ago. When Page was found she was barely able to speak and had lost one third of her body weight. She had been able to stay warm thanks to her thick blue sleeping bag.  Crews were startled at first to spot a small animal crawling out of Page’s sleeping bag, but quickly realized the furry little creature was actually a house cat.  More News New Mexico

George Noory Narrowly Escapes Kidnap in Mexico

From Radio talk show host George Noory — host of Coast to Coast — had his vacation plans unexpectedly changed into escape plans when the limousine he was supposed to be taking ended up being driven by a would-be kidnapper.  The incident, Noory says, began when a limousine style van picked him up at the airport, purporting to be his transportation to his hotel. On the way, Noory noticed that the van was taking him through a less-than-savory area of Mexico and that the driver was behaving oddly. When Noory tried to exit the van, the door handle broke off in his hand. Only through a real stroke of luck was he able to get away by hailing another car and paying the driver $100 in cash.  More News New Mexico

Feds Close Cattle Gate at N.M. Port of Entry

From wisconsinrapidtribune - The livestock gate at one of the international ports of entry in southern New Mexico is closed now that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is restricting its veterinarians from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.  The agency cites safety concerns, but New Mexico's two U.S. senators are urging the Obama administration to find a way for cattle to be moved through the Columbus port. Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall sent letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. They say the decision to close the gate places a significant burden on ranchers. New Mexico ranchers buy cattle from Mexico to supplement their herds. Other animals are also transferred through the crossing. Before animals are allowed to come into New Mexico, they are inspected by a federal veterinarian to ensure they are disease-free.

NM Environment Secretary Urges Congress to Fund LANL Cleanup

David Martin
From - New Mexico Environment Secretary David Martin and a delegation of New Mexico leaders were in Washington this week pushing for more money to cleanup toxic waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Martin says the delegation stressed the need for more federal funding to ensure the lab can meet its promise to remove thousands of barrels of radioactive waste that is stored above ground on lab property by 2014.  Martin says the delegation stressed the need for more federal funding to ensure the lab can meet its promise to remove thousands of barrels of radioactive waste that is stored above ground on lab property by 2014. The potential dangers of the waste made national headlines last summer when the Las Conchas fire raged near the lab. Martin and the newly formed Regional Coalition of LANL Communities met with the New Mexico congressional delegation, National Nuclear Security Administrator Tom D'Agostino and others on Monday and Tuesday.

Full List of Martinez Signatures and Vetoes

Susana Martinez
SANTA FE – Readers can find a full description of any bill mentioned below on the state's bill finder page. Keith Gardner the Governor's Chief of Staff will be on News New Mexico this morning to answer regarding signed and vetoed bills. Goveror Martinez announced yesterday that she has concluded action on items passed during the 2012 legislative session. The 20-day bill signing period during which the Governor was able to sign or veto legislation sent to her by the legislature concluded at noon Wednesday.
Governor Martinez has taken action on the following items:
SIGNED HB 40 – Nonfranchise Auto Dealer Continuing Ed
SIGNED HB 42 – Legislative Retirement Contribution Changes
SIGNED HB 102 – Property Tax Valuation
SIGNED HB 231 – Income Tax Lottery Tuition Donation
SIGNED HB 277 – Federal Water Projects Gross Receipts
SIGNED HB 315 – Lung Cancer Research
SIGNED HB 190 – Reauthorize Projects
SIGNED HB 191 – Severance Tax Bond Projects
SIGNED SB 66 – General Obligation Bond Projects
SIGNED SB 196 – Schools for Deaf & Blind Capital Outlay
SIGNED SB 206 – GSD Contracts Database
SIGNED SB 209 – School District Financial Flexibility
VETOED HB 186 – Create Additional Judgeships
VETOED HB 188 – Increase County Official Salaries
VETOED SB 59 – Child Murder as Aggravating Circumstance
VETOED SB 71 – Interlocks for Certain Crime Convictions
VETOED SB 225 – Cigarette Tax Definitions
VETOED SB 302 – Bed & Breakfast Beer & Wine Permits
Tuesday, in addition to signing HB 201 and vetoing SB 9 the Governor took action on the following items:
SIGNED HB 55 – Local Government Planning Fund
SIGNED HB 64 – Change Thanatopractice to Funeral Services
SIGNED HB 102 – Estimate Property Tax in Valuation Notices
SIGNED HB 105 – Engineer & Surveyor License Requirements
SIGNED HB 219 – Military Installations as Fee Agents
SIGNED SB 10 – Condo Declaration Zoning Law Compliance
SIGNED SB 26 – Neighboring State Citizen Firearm Purchases
SIGNED SB 256 – Tribal College Dual Credit Programs
VETOED HB 72 – Judicial Retirement Changes


Rep. Rhonda King also not running for re-election

Rep. Rhonda King
From Capitol Report New Mexico - Make it nine members of the state House of Representatives stepping down. Rep. Rhonda King (D-Stanley) announced Wednesday she will not seek re-election in House District 50. Rep. King said: “At this point of my life, I want to spend more time with my family, including my young daughter. I also look forward to continuing my service to the community, particularly my work on the Tri-County Juvenile Justice Board which provides programs to help improve the lives of youth in our communities. Known as a moderate Democrat, King has served in the House for 14 years and her district was altered in this most recent re-apportionment map to include not only King’s hometown of Stanley but also the community of Eldorado in Santa Fe. She’s the neice of former Gov. Bruce King, the cousin of state attorney general Gary King and the wife of Johnny Montoya, the chief of staff at the Public Regulation Commission. King’s announcement is the latest in a string of legislators who will resign at the end of their terms this year. Nine members of the 70-member House are stepping down and with four incumbents squaring off in two districts that are being consolidated under redistricting, that means at least 11 current House members will not return — and there’s still 13 days left before the filing deadline so more changes could happen between now and March 20. Read more


Governor axes more than 20 capital projects in Santa Fe

Gov. Susana Martinez
From the Santa Fe New Mexican - by Steve Terrell  - The new district courthouse currently under construction, a planned botanical garden on Museum Hill, the Santa Fe Farmers Market, La Familia Medical Center, Women's Health Services, El Museo Cultural and Santa Fe Public Schools were among the local entities hit Wednesday by Gov. Susana Martinez's vetoes.  Martinez cut almost $23 million from a capital outlay bill by using her line-item veto power to ax nearly 200 projects statewide. Those included more than 20 projects in Santa Fe County.  The executive director of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, near the state museum complex on Museum Hill, said the veto of $201,000 for the project was "very disappointing," but it won't stop the garden from being built on the land it leases from the state.  The 280 projects left standing in the bill amount to $107 million in 10-year severance tax bond proceeds -- nearly a third of which will go to an Interstate 25 interchange at Paseo del Norte in Albuquerque.  Martinez also signed a separate bill authorizing $139 million in projects for colleges, senior citizen centers and libraries, but the property-tax-supported bonds require voter approval. No projects were vetoed in the general obligation bond measure.  Martinez explained in a statement that her vetoes were because the Legislature took a "grab bag" approach to capital outlay.  "Legislators divided up the funding among themselves and doled the dollars out to various projects within their districts -- regardless of whether the local community identified the project as useful or necessary, regardless of whether the project was adequately funded (or a plan existed to adequately fund it), regardless of whether the project was an appropriate use of severance tax bonds, and regardless of whether a better alternative funding mechanism existed for the project," she said. Read more

Tobacco bill vetoed

From the Alamogordo Daily News - SANTA FE For the second year in succession, Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed a bill that would have forced a price increase on certain cigarettes produced by smaller companies. The bill was designed to make sure that all tobacco companies are reimbursing the state for medical costs related to smoking. Small companies selling cigarettes on tribal lands are not paying into the state escrow fund designated for smoking-related health expenses. Sen. Lynda Lovejoy, D-Crownpoint, sponsored Senate Bill 225 to end this disparity. She said allowing some companies to escape payment threatens New Mexico's 1998 master settlement with Big Tobacco companies. That agreement brings the state $35 million to $40 million a year. Martinez, in vetoing the bill Wednesday, said there was no pressing need to create the cigarette law. She vetoed a similar cigarette bill last year, calling it a tax increase. Martinez campaigned for governor on a promise not to increase any taxes. "While a credible argument can be made that escrow collection may or may not be a tax increase, my primary concern with this bill relates to ongoing arbitration between the state and major tobacco companies," Martinez said. Tobacco companies that signed the master agreement are challenging dozens of states on compliance issues. They hope to avoid or reduce annual payments to those states. "Because New Mexico is in compliance with the master settlement agreement, there is no need to amend the law at this time," Read more